Some time back I went through a very challenging season in my life. Without going into detail I was believing for something to change for me personally and it didn’t look like it was happening. This created a lot of frustration in me and I began to struggle controlling my emotions more than I had in years. Yeah, this stuff even happens to pastors. We are real people too.
Anyway, I decided to take a day to pray and fast and seek the Lord to try to get a breakthrough. Before we go further, here’s what I wanted to happen. I wanted God to either change all my circumstances and/or hit me with a lightning bolt from heaven so I was dramatically changed without a whole lot of work on my part. Now, here’s what actually happened. After doing some work in my office while listening to the word, I began to worship and pray. Then the Lord spoke to me and said, “You’re problem isn’t your problem.”
I said, “What’s my problem then?”
The Lord spoke to me and said, “You’ve assumed a false identity.”
He then began to show me that my disappointment and frustration about my situation got me to subtly believe wrong things about God and myself over a period of several months. I use the world subtly because I didn’t realize I was doing it. Emotional hurts unresolved will eventually penetrate our heart and get us to believe lies about ourselves. Examples of these lies include:
I’m not worthy enough to get God to move in my life, I don’t need friends anymore because they are only going to let me down, I don’t have the resources to do what God is calling me to do, and and I can’t control how I feel.
When we began to believe these things about ourselves, it will warp how we do life and more importantly it will warp how we see God because our disappointment will cause us to question His goodness. The lie or lies we are believing about who God is and who He says we are the real problems. Unless we understand this, we will fight and try to change our circumstances instead of deal with the real problem. When we know the truth, circumstances are subject to change.
A great example of this is the temptation of Jesus. Luke 3 records the baptism of Jesus and the following chapter records the temptation of Jesus. The events surrounding the baptism of Jesus are necessary to understand in order to appreciate the nature of Jesus’s temptation. Look at Luke 3:21-22:
21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
When Jesus was baptized, God the Father declared, “This is My beloved in Son in whom I am well pleased.” The word God spoke over Jesus established His identity, which is a vital piece of information to understand of before we analyze the temptation of Jesus discussed in Luke 4:
3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
The temptation wasn’t turning a stone into bread. The temptation of Jesus was getting Him to question that He was the Son of God. Satan tried to get Jesus to do something to prove who He was; in this case to stone to bread, instead of simply believing the truth about His identity. Satan came after Jesus’s identity.
9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’11 and,‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
Notice again what the real temptation of Jesus was. It wasn’t necessarily sinful to jump off a building and have angels catch Him, unless of course Jesus was doing it to prove to Himself who He really was. Satan again was coming after Jesus’s identity.
5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
Why would a Son of God worship a fallen angel? This is what Satan asked Jesus to do. This temptation was at its root an identity issue because Satan was tempting Jesus with a shortcut to get His inheritance; all the kingdoms of the world. Because Jesus knew who He was and whose He was, He rebuked the devil and didn’t give in.
The three examples I shared were from the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. Now let’s examine one from the end of His ministry when He was hanging on the cross. Look at Matthew 27:
39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”
44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.
Satan moved on the hearts of the chief priests, scribes, elders and even the robbers hanging next to Jesus to question Jesus’s identity. Jesus had to hear this while enduring excruciating physical pain and emotional torment. Put yourself in His shoes for a minute. If you were experiencing the torment Jesus was going through on the cross, do you think you might begin to question if you really were the Son of God, even if you always knew crucifixion was always the plan. To quote Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a game-plan until they get hit.” How many of us have known what the word says about us and had a plan for how to do life and then we got blindsided by Satan, people, and circumstances, and we begin to question the plan? I don’t say that to condemn us, I’m just saying that to be real.
Satan’s final temptation of Jesus was to get Him to question who His identity while on the cross in hopes that Jesus would give in and decide to come off the cross. Jesus didn’t yield because He was rooted in His identity as the beloved Son of God.
Satan uses the same tactics on us today. He throws hardships and difficult people are way and then tells us that if we really were a son/daughter of God, we wouldn’t feel these negative emotions. He does this with the sole purpose of getting us to question we you really are. The key to overcoming these tactics is quit focusing on our emotions and circumstances and put our focus back on who we are in Christ. As we do that, we will guard our heart and stay in faith, which allows God to bring emotional healing and change our circumstances.
Don’t believe the lie! You really are a Son or Daughter of the Most High and He is well pleased in you no matter how you feel! If you would like to learn more, check out this message I recently taught at Grace Life Church.